Owen Sound Field Naturalists: April, 2022

April can be a month of celebration and discovery as we frequently notice sounds and sights for the first time this year – the distinctive songs of Robins, Killdeer, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, the melodious Eastern Meadowlark, and for me just yesterday, my first of year Eastern Phoebe.

Back to our area now, Phoebes can now be optimistic that they can find enough of the flying insects that I have been seeing, to survive the remaining uneven weather;  many local observers, me included, have reported seeing their first Mourning Cloak butterflies; there are still some Pussy Willows here and there, and leaf buds on trees are swelling with moisture and energy; trout can be seen upstream in many creeks, and muskrats are often visible along the banks. 

When I was cycling yesterday, I heard my first Spring Peeper Frogs, saw some bright yellow Coltsfoot, and although I haven’t yet seen Wild Leeks, or Trout Lilies, when I stepped into a hardwood bush area to see if any were evident, I was delighted to see a stunningly beautiful Scarlet Cup fungus. 

Congratulations have been pouring in for Owen Sound’s successful application to be designated a Tree City of the World, initiated by NeighbourWoods North. Kudos for all of the good work so far, and for the planning and implementation of this programme going forward.
Shawna Macivor and Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North stand in front of a backdrop of trees at the Centennial Tower in Owen Sound

The pair, along with fellow organization member Gord Edwards, asked the city to apply to become a Tree City of the World in 2021.

Photos by Ingrid Remkins north of Kimberley

The weather finally cooperated on March 27, for the Young Naturalists Club to do some animal tracking with Jeff Kinchen and, as Jody Johnson Pettit shared “We followed deer, grouse, red squirrel and owl tracks in the snow.”

Photos by Jody Johnson Pettit

In addition to the more commonly seen birds, many keen birders are always noting “rare bird sightings” of species that are only occasionally, or very rarely, if ever, seen locally. In recent months, these have included Hoary Redpoll, Least Grebe, Horned Grebe, Black Scoter, Pied-billed Grebe, Ross’s Goose, Cackling Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short Eared Owl, to name just a few.
Scarlet Cup Fungus by John Dickson
Bruce Birding Club (BBC) members have been sharing both their group and individual sightings of Spring bird activity. On his property, Doug Pedwell noted “While waiting out the quarantine,  I have been paying attention to what is going on outside.  A lone Pine Siskin seems to be travelling with the Goldfinches.  Song Sparrows are already staking out nesting territories. The Starlings are already on the nest.  I have found the odd Robin’s egg in various places.
Today I heard my first Spring Peeper and the Wood Frogs are heading to full Chorus.” BBC coordinator Fred Jazvac confirmed “One of the behavioural characteristics of Pine Siskins is, when they are in our area, they hang out with American Goldfinches.”
To close, a quote from Grey Owl and Me, by Hap Wilson –  “It was always about ‘the trail,’ and the ability to disconnect yourself from the things that are destroying mankind by destroying Nature…every time I stepped into the canoe, searching for lost rivers, or straddled my motorcycle and headed for the backcountry.”